MARK Lovell is believed to have been murdered as part of the same continuing feud which claimed the life of Irish crime boss Robbie Lawlor, the High Court has heard.
Mr Lovell (58) was shot dead at close range in his car at Ardcarn Park in Newry last month.
A link was drawn between the two killings as one of the men charged with murdering Lawlor in north Belfast made a renewed application for bail.
Counsel for 47-year-old Patrick Teer claimed he has been wrongly plunged into a “nightmarish situation” through of an innocent association with his co-accused.
Lawlor (36) was gunned down outside a house in the city’s Ardoyne area on April 4, 2020. The assassination formed part of a violent drugs dispute between rival criminal factions with connections to Drogheda, Dublin, Sligo and beyond Ireland.
Neither Teer, of Thornberry Hill in Belfast, nor 39-year-old co-accused Adrian Holland, from Etna Drive in the city, are suspected of being the gunman. Instead, they have been charged as part of a joint enterprise, based on their alleged involvement in events surrounding the killing.
Prosecutors allege the plot to lure Lawlor to his death was devised weeks earlier. Holland travelled to a Sligo hotel and met an unnamed international drug dealer in a trip paid for by his co-accused, it is claimed.
Teer’s barrister argued on Thursday that he should now be released from custody due to the passage of time and a “softening” of his alleged role.
Sean Devine said: “My client has been in a nightmarish situation; this is his first ever experience of the criminal justice system. His sole (alleged) involvement is that of an association with Mr Holland.”
Mr Justice O’Hara was told the prosecution do not regard Teer as a top-ranking member of an organised crime gang.
But a Crown lawyer submitted: “This is a circumstantial case not based on any one piece of evidence. If there is prima facie evidence of being involved in a crime of this nature it must mean they are a trusted member, part or cog of that organised crime gang.”
Opposing Teer’s release, she insisted that the underworld dispute is ongoing.
“Police believe the murder of Mr Lovell in Newry (on December 1) was part of that feud,” the prosecutor said.
It was stressed that detectives are still hunting for the gunman and others involved in the attack on Lawlor.
Adjourning the bail application, Mr Justice O’Hara said he will give a ruling at a later date.